Christianity and Islam: Ideologies Of Imperialism
POLITICS MASQUERADING AS RELIGION
The questions remained unanswered till I had a chance to read the life of prophet Muhammad and the history of the rise of Christianity. I knew a lot of Muslim history in this country, and also abroad. I knew how blood-soaked it was in all its chapters. I also knew a lot of Christian history in Europe, and America, and elsewhere. I knew what a horrible story it was in terms of death and destruction it brought to many lands. What I did not know for a long time was the genesis of these creeds which had inflicted so much sufferings on mankind.
It was only when I looked into the source books of these �religions�, and examined the character of their founders that I discovered the ãsurika roots from which they had sprung. It was only then that I realized the grave error in recognizing these creeds as religions in any sense of the term. I could see quite clearly that what we were faced with were purely political ideologies inspired by imperialist ambitions. It was only then that all pieces of the puzzle fell into a pattern – the theologies, the histories, the swearologies, and the rest.
Before I take up the genesis of these creeds I should like to make one point very clear. There are no non-Christian records available about the birth, rise, and spread of Christianity till it captured state power in the Roman empire. Whatever I write below about the genesis of Christianity is based entirely on early Christian records. Similarly, no non-Muslim records have survived about the rise and spread of Islam in Arabia. What I write below about the genesis of Islam is based entirely on Islamic records.
GENESIS AND CHARACTER OF CHRISTIANITY
Some historians in the West have serious doubts about the very existence of a man called Jesus Christ.3 And almost all historians agree that if he existed at all, nothing can be known about his person or teaching because all contemporary sources, Christian and non-Christian, are either silent or unreliable regarding the subject. Thus all we have is the Jesus of the Gospels which are now regarded as theological statements rather than a record of historical events. And Jesus of the Gospels is a questionable character. He makes tall claims about himself, and curses all those who do not accept those claims. He denounces his own people as sons of the Devil and killers of prophets.
In due course, Christian theology came to proclaim that Jesus was the only-begotten son of the only true god; that he had been sent down in order to wash with his own blood the sins of mankind by mounting the cross; that he had risen from the dead on the third day and appeared to his apostles in flesh and bones; that he was the same as his father whose divinity he shared in full; that those who accepted him as the only saviour had all their sins washed by his blood; that he had entered his apostles as the holy ghost and entrusted them with the mission of saving all mankind from eternal hell-fire; that the Church founded by the apostles and joined by the converts was his body and bride; and that the whole world had been mandated to the Church by the father and the son and the holy ghost.
What one finds striking about these ridiculous statements is that none of them can stand the test of human reason or experience. The Church declares them to be mysteries beyond the reach of human understanding. The apostles had tried to sell these �mysteries� to the Jews in Jerusalem. The only response they met was dismissal with contempt. Next, they tried these �mysteries� on Jewish communities settled in Syria, Asia Minor and Greece. They had some small success but most of the time met with considerable resistance. Finally, they took this merchandise to the metropolitan mart at Rome where their business found some firm footing for the first time. It was in Rome that the methods of missionary salesmanship were matured over a period of time. The structure of the Roman empire provided a model for the structure of the Church. The missionaries got busy building a state within the state.
In the next two centuries, the Church became a rich and powerful organisation with members in many leading families of Rome. It found many adherents among politicians who wielded power, among military commanders who were superstitious or in need of political support, and among merchants who had money but no brains for philosophical questions. The mother of emperor Severus (222-235 AD) became a Christian. So did emperor Philip the Arabian (244-249 AD). Helena, the mother of Constantine, was also a Christian convert. Now the Church extended the Divine Right to rule as a despot to anyone who was prepared to declare Christianity as the sole state religion and suppress all pagan religions. Constantine who wanted to secure a dynastic succession for his family – a practice unknown to Roman politics so far – saw his opportunity in this new doctrine, and proclaimed in favour of the Church. The common people in Rome resisted this royal renegade. So he removed his capital from Rome to Byzantium which was renamed Constantinople.
The precedent set by Constantine in consolidating a dynastic despotism with the help of the Church was copied by many crowned heads all over Europe in subsequent centuries. The king in pagan societies was only the first among equals. The Church enabled him to become an unbridled autocrat who derived his authority not from the community over which he ruled but from God Almighty. The conflicts which developed between these autocrats and the powerful Church with a Pope at its head, came much later, after the common people all over Europe had been enslaved and deprived of their traditional institutions which safeguarded their fundamental freedoms. For quite some time, the Church cooperated with the kings to convert the common people everywhere into hewers of wood and drawers of water.
This was one part of the story. Another was a large-scale destruction of ancient religions all over Europe, Asia Minor, and North Africa where the Church spread its tentacles with the help of despotic rulers. All pagan schools were closed, all pagan temples were demolished or converted into churches, and all pagan images were publicly defiled and destroyed. Pagan books were burnt and pagan priests were killed, mostly by Christian monks who led Christian mobs after lecturing them into fevered frenzy. That is how Christianity triumphed over pagan religions and societies – not by the power of its moral or spiritual superiority or the logic of its doctrines, but by the power of the sword wielded by despicable despots.
GENESIS AND CHARACTER OF ISLAM
Muhammad followed in the footsteps of Jesus in making the same sort of claims for himself, cursing his own people in the choicest language of monotheism, and threatening them with slaughter. He, however, did not have to struggle against a centralized state when he found that his prophethood had no attraction for the people of Mecca. He migrated to Medina which was more receptive to monotheism because of a large presence of Jews in that town, and emerged as a powerful potentate. He ended by exiling or killing en masse the Jewish population which resisted him as soon as he came out in his true colours. Meanwhile, he had amassed much wealth by plundering merchant caravans and scattered Arab settlements. He created the nucleus of a standing army out of the toughs and desperados who flocked to him in increasing numbers for committing crimes and sharing the loot. In short, he built the apparatus of a military state in Medina and used it for imposing his closed creed on the tribal settlements of Arabia by means of armed force. The doctrines of Islam were tailored to the needs of this galloping tyranny, and sold with the help of the sword. And the sword was stamped with the name of an almighty Allah in whose service the ancient religion and culture of Arabia were destroyed root and branch.
THE MISTAKE MADE BY HINDU SOCIETY
Hindu society has to understand very clearly that what it is faced with in the form of Christianity and Islam are not religions but imperialist ideologies whose appetite has been whetted by running roughshod over a large part of the world. Hindu society is making a serious, almost a fatal mistake, in appealing to these ideologies in the name of reason and morality which are supposed to accompany religion. This sort of appeal is bound to fail because it falls on deaf ears. The menace has to be met by methods and means which are suited to the nature and magnitude of the menace. Hitler had said that �if the chicken and geese pass a resolution about peace, the wolf is not convinced�. There is little chance that Hindu society will ever be able to contain Christianity or Islam if it continues to regard these aggressive and imperialist ideologies as religions, and extend tolerance to them. From the book——————————–
SITA RAM GOEL
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